Students set down priorities for next AMS, rector

Rector candidates discuss the issues at the first debate, held last night on West Campus.
Rector candidates discuss the issues at the first debate, held last night on West Campus.

With elections just around the corner, Queen’s students are eager to outline exactly what they are looking for in the new rector and AMS executive. The Journal asked various campus organizations, as well as individual students, to describe their ideal AMS executive and rector, from the qualities they should have to the issues they should address. Current AMS president Ethan Rabidoux said accountability was a key issue for the future executive.

“I’d like to see them come up with something creative to ensure that the team is accountable for whatever promises they make,” he said.

Student Jennifer Organ, ArtSci ’07, agreed.

“[Members of the AMS exec] need to actually achieve some of their platform,” she said. ASUS President Bradley Hammond said the future execs will have to make sure what transpired at this year’s Homecoming does not repeat itself.

“I think that students feel that the events of Homecoming should not happen again,” Hammond said. “The new exec will have to foster an environment for positive change.”

Organ also named Homecoming as one of the major issues she thinks the next AMS needs to address. “Homecoming, the Queen’s Centre, tuition,” she said. “Those are the big three.”

Working as a united front, several campus development organizations have written an open letter to the AMS and rector hopefuls, requesting the candidates voice their support for an exclusively fair trade coffee campus.

Kelly Bowden, president of Queen’s OXFAM and ArtSci ’07, said the groups sent the letter because they’ve been hearing the candidates use the buzzword “sustainability” and want to see them put their money where their mouths are.

“Fair trade is a tangible committment to increasing social sustainability in a global community, which Queen’s students should strive to be a part of,” Bowden said.

Along with Queen’s OXFAM, Queen’s Project on International Development and Queen’s International Affairs Association have each signed the letter.

Bowden said the groups sent the open letter Friday, but have thus far only heard back from one rector candidate—Tom Woodhall, who expressed his support—and no AMS teams.

Sarah Michelle Ogden, editor-in-chief of Ultraviolet magazine, suggested the incoming AMS take club facilities into consideration.

“Computers and space are a concern for Ultraviolet and the other magazines that currently share the Media Centre,” she said. “If [the AMS] could set aside more space in the Queen’s Centre for us, that would definitely be great.”

Ogden also raised the issue of funding, suggesting that the AMS seek out better sponsors and inquire into different sources of funding. Sonja Grgar, president of the Spanish and Latin American Student Association, agreed that the AMS could certainly do more to fund clubs.

“It would be great if we could get something in terms of a grant to get equipment that would belong to us,” she said. “The sound system [for salsa lessons] we currently use is on loan from the JDUC.”

Katherine Dutrizac, operations manager of the P&CC, said she is satisfied in general with this year’s AMS exec, but that the overlap between services like the Green Room and the Tricolour Market should be addressed. “That creates competition,” Dutrizac said. “I’d like to see more camaraderie around services.”

Dutrizac said the new AMS should re-divide services into areas of media, retail and food.

Farron Blanc, general manager of the Green Room, agreed.

“The corporate duplications that exist need to be dealt with,” he said. “I hope the new exec will understand and treat [each service] as a business, not as some sort of clubhouse.”

Ei Phyu Han, head manager of Walkhome, said she has few complaints about the AMS, but hopes the AMS will continue to work to advertise Walkhome to first-years and incoming students.

“The main issue is to keep Walkhome a priority,” she said. “I’d like [the new exec] to always have us in the back of their mind while they’re marketing the AMS.”

Krista Hapke, ComSoc president, said the three things that are important to ComSoc regarding the incoming AMS exec were accountability, communication and representation.

“We’d like to see increased communication, faculty-wise, and more work done through AMS Assembly ad-hoc committees, so there’s more faculty input into decisions made,” she said. “We’d also like to see a focus on insurance [for AMS-sanctioned events] issues, making sure it’s consistent, fair and well-explained,” she said. “There’s a lot confusion now over what needs to be sanctioned and what doesn’t.”

Hammond said he’d like to see more debate around academic issues like class sizes, student-faculty ratios and quality of teaching.

“But it’s the fact that we’re all working towards degrees that keeps [students across the faculties] united,” he said.

Chris Zabaneh, EngSoc president, said the future AMS should take another look at the defunct All-Ages Access program. “We have a drinking culture [at Queen’s] and they’ll need to find new and creative ways to deal with it,” he said. “[The AAA program] should come back, it just needs to be handled properly.” A former candidate for the position himself, Zabaneh also had suggestions for the incoming rector. “The rector is like a guidance counsellor for the faculty societies,” he said. “[He or she] has to be there for the student leaders as well as the students—both need attention.”

Zabaneh said it can be a challenge to get in touch with the rector, and this is something the next rector should address. “[The rector] needs to be more available,” Zabaneh said. “More time needs to be put aside for students.”

Renee Ramsay, ArtSci ’07, agreed.

“[The rector and AMS exec] need to be way more approachable,” she said. “Everybody knows who they are, but that doesn’t mean they’re tangible to the student body.”

Rabidoux said whoever is elected should prepare for a difficult and rewarding job.

“Brace yourself,” he said. “It will be an amazing experience, precisely because it’s going to be tough.”

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